Did you miss the last See Tony Opportunity?  There’s another coming up on November 19th at 10am.  I understand this is a Saturday and that you humans don’t do the thing known as work on that day.  That means no excuses for not coming to see me.  This will be a talk about exercises and mental strategies that can improve your riding.  I don’t know about the exercise portion, but I hear petting a cat while he purrs is an excellent mental calming exercise.

Now on to the main topic for this week: worms.  Allow me to digress for a moment; it will make sense in a moment.  A funny thing happens around this time of year.  First, I notice a change in the weather to excellent catnapping in the sun temperatures, next I notice there is less of the aforementioned sun, and finally one day the humans are all late for their serving duties.  This has been explained to me as The Time Change.  I feel it’s just an excuse for opening the door and feeding me a full hour late!  How does this relate to worms?  This Time Change thing coincides with the ideal time to check a fecal parasite egg count on horses.  I am a wise cat. I know all sorts of things the average city cat doesn’t.

Worms are smart.  Not cat smart, but smart.  Over time they have learned how to survive every deworming agent available: that includes the so called “natural” dewormers (more on that later).  We humans are responsible for teaching the worms this skill.  By using dewormers too often, we let the worms learn how to fight.  What’s a horse owner to do?  Learn how to use deworming properly by doing three things:  1-Deworm the right horse, 2-Use the right product, 3-Deworm at the right time.

Let’s start with deworming the right horse.  The only way to know if your horse has parasites is something called a fecal parasite egg count.  This is performed using a small amount of fresh poop.  We do some mixing, spinning, and settling before we are able to count how many eggs are left on a microscope slide.  This number is our guideline for which horses need deworming now and how often they are likely to need dewormed.  These egg counts are often very surprising.  Turns out it’s pretty difficult to tell if a horse has worms just by looking at them.  Plenty of fat, shiny horses have really high egg counts!

On to the right product.  Once upon a time a great idea arose among people who study worms.  There were a few products available and they were from different chemical families so it made sense to rotate those products so the worms couldn’t get used to any one drug.  Sounds good, makes sense, DOESN’T work.  The worms are pretty good at resisting the –zoles and pyrantel so using these drugs doesn’t do much good unless you know they work on your farm.  How do you know if they work? Fecal egg counts.  Here at Springhill Equine we usually stick to ivermectin and moxidectin used as infrequently as possible, again based on those fecal egg counts.

Deworm at the right time of year for the biggest bang for your buck.  You may find this hard to believe but worms don’t like summertime in Florida.  This means if we deworm once the weather gets hot, all the worms get killed in the horse and the sunshine kills all the worms in the ground.  That means less deworming because you are decreasing your horse’s exposure to parasites.  Next we wait for the weather to cool off (like it does right around the time change) to hit the parasites coming out of summer hibernation.  Ta Da! Targeted deworming!!!

These strategies help the dewormers we have now last as long as possible.  It is very, very important that deworming is done with help from our amazing Clinic.  All of our technicians and docs can help you design the plan that’s right for your horse, your property, and your horse’s lifestyle.  There are no new dewormers even in development.  That means when resistance to ivermectin becomes widespread, that’s it.  We won’t have a way to deworm horses and worms used to kill horses.  So be a good human and deworm your horse the right way!